How To Get Away With Wearing Sneakers Anywhere

You've seen the outfit formula several dozen times over: the inky trouser, a pitch-dark blazer, and slick, jet-black shoes. It's this sort of commitment to head-to-toe monochrome that New York's creative set lives by. And while we'd never deny how chic and powerful it can be, coming across a creative type who doesn't ascribe to this all-black uniform can feel like a breath of fresh air.
We're talking about none other than Kimberly Drew (@museummammy as she's known on the internet), the social media manager for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She lives her insanely cool life — gallivanting from her dream 9-to-5 gig to panel guest spots, art openings, and glitzy galas — in technicolor patterns, cheeky conversation-starter tees, and bold footwear. Eager to know more about the 27-year-old New Jersey native, we set out to pick Drew's brain on everything from her art influences and favorite spot at The Met to her love of classic Reebok sneakers — and why she insists on wearing them just about everywhere. Prepare to be charmed by Drew's colorful aesthetic and real-talk answers, ahead.
Your signature look is pretty much the opposite of the typical all-black creative uniform. Was that an intentional choice?
"I’ve had phases of wearing all white or all black, but I’m naturally drawn to colors and patterns. I love the way color can decorate someone’s personality, and it's such an amazing way to introduce yourself. With the work that I do, I’m interfacing with so many strangers all the time — so it’s an easy way to strike up conversation with someone new."
What's your process like when you're putting together an outfit?
"It’s 100% motivated by what I’m going to do. If I’m heading to a gala, I may opt for a fun, beautiful dress, because I know it can lead to the most amazing night of conversation. Whereas if I’m going to hang with my mom, I’ll keep it super casual. We’re definitely an athleisure family."
You’re a self-proclaimed sneaker girl. Do you have any styling rules when it comes to kicks?
"I love sneakers more than anything and wear them with pretty much everything — even dresses to more formal events. One would think you’d feel a little embarrassed, but women come up to me and say, 'You’re so smart, I wish I’d worn sneakers.' That feels like the biggest victory, because when I first started doing it, I was expecting people to give me weird looks."
What sneaker trend are you currently obsessing over?
"I love rehashing the classics, so any style from the late '90s. Seeing the shoes that I pined for as a youngster and being able to wear them now as an adult is so satisfying."
How would you describe the dress code at The Met? What's your go-to work look?
"I love working at a place where I can have piercings and tattoos and where everyone has such unique style, but it’s so much more about the contributions I’m making than the way I dress. What I choose to wear to work is very much guided by events or if I have a gala after work; I’m the queen of changing in the restroom to pull together a full look."
I imagine working in the art industry has rubbed off on your style. What genres or artists have inspired you?
"I’m somewhere between Agnes Martin and Rococo. Minimalism isn't something I live up to in the way that I dress, but I love the aesthetic and thinking about its role in design. Then Rococo is so lavish; I love the grandeur of it all. The Memphis Group also speaks to where I’m at in fashion right now."
Do you have a favorite spot at the museum?
"I love the Met steps. They’re an emblematic symbol of the museum, and thanks to popular TV shows, they’ve become such a heavily photographed space. I love seeing people pose on the stairs; it’s a destination that people feel proud being at. It’s a way in which pop culture and museums and architecture and all of these disciplines run into each other."
What's your relationship with social media beyond the scope of your job?
"Social media touches everything I do. Some of my greatest friendships have been born from social media interactions. And when it comes to my personal style, social media definitely plays a role. Instagram and Twitter have been incredible vehicles for discovering new voices in fashion. I’m not interested in having a passive experience. I always like to think of it as an opportunity to learn or connect. I take social media really seriously, and I use it to see what people are doing all over the world."
How do you carve out time for your personal life and unplug when you have such a demanding job that requires you to constantly be on your phone?
"Recently, I’ve been really dedicated to time management. I’m guilty of compulsively touching my phone, so I started using Forest [a tool that limits internet browsing]. I've also put an autoresponder on my personal email. I guard my time now, which helps me be mindful of my energy and preserve it."
How do you feel your work has improved the representation of historically marginalized groups in the art industry?
"In the field at large, there are tons of women. But the issue in our industry is the lack of women in power. There are very few women who are directors of institutions, and that’s a critical point in our dialogue. There’s such an incredible history of Black women who have been so present in the art world either as historians, educators, or artists — who push the needle on what’s created and what’s remembered. I try to think about them and champion their work, and it inspires me to continually ask questions about what institutions can do. When I was starting out, I couldn’t name one or two Black curators — so I’ve been passionate about making sure people know more names, like, 'We out here.'"

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